Teddy Roosevelt and the Cowboys of Hugo

The small town of Hugo, Colorado, clings to life on the parched plains of Eastern Colorado.  It is a ranching town, built by the railroad.  The 10 gallon hat and boots are pretty much standard dress apparel.  The pick up has replaced the horse although the pick up often has a horse trailer in tow.  Up on the ridge, the grassland stretches to the eyes end.  Rolling prairie to the horizon, dotted with cattle marked by fences. 

Here the land is pretty much the same as it was in past centuries, only now broken by fences.  In 1902 the little cow town was a buzz, the president was passing through.  It was also round up time and the ranch hands had gathered in town to begin their round up. 

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News must of spread across the prairie of the president’s trip for there were also more then a couple of photographers in town.  These shutter bugs were snapping pictures of the event and the cowboys were proudly posing. 

Hugo was a stop on the railroad where steam engines were serviced.  So it was with anticipation that they would get to see President Roosevelt.  When the train arrived, it was chow time for the cowboys and the aroma of cooking food was drifting in the air.

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When Roosevelt stepped onto the platform of his car the aroma of the food engulfed him.  The cowboys gathered around to get a glimpse of the US President.  Banter went back and forth and soon the cowboys had the president off the train and to have some chow with him.

Cameras were flashing and smiles were growing.

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It was time to gather around and break bread with the President of the United States. 

Many a picture was taken and many years later these pictures were gathered up into books.  One of the photographers traveling with the president became so enamored with the cowboys of Hugo, he returned the following day.  Arriving in Denver, He caught the next train east to Hugo and set out to capture more pictures of these boys of the West.

His pictures were gathered into a small booklet and very few copies were made.  One resides in the tomes of the Colorado State History Museum and a few can be found here and there. 

The photographs by the other photographers have become parts of cowboy book from the early 1900’s.

These books and their photographs give a glimpse into and era that was on the wane.  There was no Hollywood yet to glitter up the real thing.  Unvarnished, these were the cowpokes that roamed the range, tending to the cattle. 

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In downtown Hugo, is a small memorial park to this moment when the President of the US stopped in the little ranching town and ate with the cowboys. 


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